Monday, July 19, 2010

Church Parties... are fun...

Not long ago there was a Tweet that read, "The church has nothing to say to the world until they throw better parties,"... and I struggled with that for a little bit. Is the church's call/mission to throw parties? To entertain? To appease? Emphatically, no!

However, the quote still bothered me even as I tried to dismiss it... partly because- knowing the author- I dismiss half of what they say anyway.

Then, Saturday night, I sat watching a local band while people danced on the lawn, beers in hand, while money was being raised for the Make a Wish Foundation and thought, "What a great party... why isn't church more like that?"

I've heard people complain of tithing at church but have never heard someone say, "Why are those stupid charities always asking for money and trying to help people?" Or heard them wonder aloud why people make art and music... well, I did hear a lawyer say that once but (... just kidding, sort of).

So why are people confused on the mission of the church? Why are they unclear as to what is going on with tithing? If our call is to love each other, to go and make disciples, to go to those far from God then why AREN'T we throwing better parties? Why is the music on Sunday not like the music from Saturday night? Why aren't the people from Sunday morning throwing the party on Saturday night?

I am not providing answers but I really want a discussion. And, before anyone uses the verse, "Be in the world and not of the world," check out 1 John 2:16. Now, let's talk.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Little League and Church

"He called a radical Jewish freedom fighter. He called a despised tax collector. He called at least three small businessmen. He called a hothead, a guy with easy ethics, some who struggled with oversize [sic] egos, and a few who had trouble accepting Gentiles (those far from God). It's no different today. Jesus seems completely aware that coming to him, we will leave other things behind, and that aspect of being involved with Jesus never stops. You don't leave your old life behind just once. You leave it behind every morning, every day." -Michael Spencer, Mere Churchianity

When I was in first grade I remember my dad signing me up for the local Little League Baseball team that was coached by our neighbor, Don. I didn't play very many years of baseball and wasn't very good but I do remember the coaching lesson that every one knows, "Keep yer eye on the ball."

When I joined the Marines I remember First Sgt. Carter explaining to us that the job description of the United States Marine Corps' was to, "Kill people and break stuff."

When I went into the ministry I remember hearing the job description was to... keep programs running, keep people happy, build bigger buildings, and don't rock the boat. Right?

And herein, as the poet says, lies the rub: evangelical churches have- as a whole- lost their original mission because if you compare our weekly activities with the things our founder said the two do not match up well with each other.

"They will know you are my followers by your love for one another."... then why are our buildings so full of drama, strife, and petty bickering? Why are Christians the most easily offended?

"Go and make disciples."... then why do we constantly talk about "inviting people to church" instead of meeting them where they are in the world? Ask a believer how many non-believers they routinely hangout with. The answer is almost always less than 5.

"Love your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the second command is like it, love your neighbor as yourself."... do we even know our neighbors anymore? Where is the concern for the least, the last, and the lost? Why doesn't every church support shelters, AA groups, homosexual ministries, HIV/AIDS hospitals and care units, discuss and fight pornography, and spend time ministrying in bars?

What I am asking is, as coined by Michael Spencer ( is this: is our church spirituality truly Jesus-centered spirituality? Or is it more of a nice spiritual country club?

My coach, Don, from years ago, still rings in my ears: "Keep yer eye on the ball." If the ball, the focus is really Jesus, have we taken our eyes off of Him?